cover image Mount Chicago

Mount Chicago

Adam Levin. Doubleday, $30 (592p) ISBN 978-0-385-54824-3

In Levin’s exhausting metafictional latest, a sinkhole opens under Chicago and swallows up big swaths of the city. Comedian and novelist Solly Gladman stays home with hemorrhoids while his family takes a trip to the museum, then disappear in the sinkhole, leaving Gladman to drown in whiskey, Xanax, and regret. Gladman’s “foil,” Apter Schutz, who made big profits off a hilarious scheme involving desk calendars meant to parody white nationalists, idolizes Gladman. After Apter is recruited to work for the mayor, who wants to create “Mount Chicago,” a memorial that will be a “less depressing Auschwitz,” the mayor tasks Apter with putting together “Day Zero,” a music festival to aid the city’s recovery. Apter finally gets the chance of an encounter with Gladman when he is tasked with finding and convincing him to perform. Unfortunately, Levin undercuts the otherwise satisfying sociopolitical comedy with frustrating interjections about his struggles to write this novel and sell his previous one, his wife’s uncertainty about whether Apter or Gladman is supposed to be Levin, and many other asides that read like missives to creative writing students or nod to the difficulties of this latest project. As the frustrated reader will find, acknowledging a problem is not equivalent to solving it. (Aug.)